A friend of mine had recommended this lovely little beach surfing town, and since we found the rest of our South American travels rather cold, we decided a beach 3km from the equator should make a good bet.
However, after living there for more than a year, although the weather had improved, it still paled in comparison to the constant, paradise warmth of the Philippines.
But the village is lovely indeed, and the best part of our SA trip. We found a lovely, safe place with a yard about 3 minutes walk from the beach and decided we will have to stay there for a few years. The boat tours business back home was doing well, we wanted to settle down for a while and save up some cash for our next leg of travels. Perhaps to Canada, who knows?
Since we would be settling down and saving up cash in a peaceful surfing village for a while, I decided I was going to dig into our remaining reserves to spend about $4,000 on windsurfing equipment, which I have been dreaming of owning every since my Mexico trip.
But before that had a chance to arrive, we got another arrival in the form of a baby boy! Turned out to require a Cesarian Section, usually very expensive, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn that medicare is free in Ecuador, even for visitors on a tourist visa.
When we got back from the hospital a few days later, we made a b-line to our favourite fancy restaurant on the beach. We had little Kaja lying in our newly bought baby carriage and even showed off the prowess of us budding new parents by not setting it up correctly next to our table, such that it collapsed and the poor little critter practically rolled out onto the floor.
We’d take him to the beach every afternoon thereafter and I noticed how he started to smile with such elation and his eyes closed as the salty, windy hair would brush through his air and he inhaled deeply the moment we got close enough to the beach. In hindsight, we presume this is the reason he loves the beach and water so much.
Eventually the windsurf equipment did arrive, but it was intermediate level, an upgrade from the beginner level I had quickly learned how to master in the calm waters of Mexican summer. Furthermore, the waves here were far from calm and there was no way with my skills that I was going to break out into the open ocean.
So I resorted to using it as a surf board only, removing the mast, but even then I was so out of shape and lacked the strength that I could barely get onto the long board once I had managed to push it out far enough.
In any case, I was satisfied with my new routine and looked forward to getting back into shape, until just maybe I’d be able to take another crack at it.
I managed to take it out to the water three times, requiring my wife to help me carry out the heavy board, when what other could happen then COVID HIT!
Now they wouldn’t even let anyone near the beach and you can imagine the silly regimen we had to undergo, as all of you.
With my savings almost entirely depleted and a total loss of income from my boat tours business, the borders being shut everywhere and all, I decided times were desperate and I need to revert to my previous, online translation job.
A few years ago when the tours business was picking up and steady and when I decided I will work on that full time, I was about to announce my resignation from my primary customer. But an inkling warning feeling held me back, so instead I set up an email filter to divert all their job offers into the trash.
Now it was only a simple task of removing the filter and start responding to job offers again.
They also have a payment mechanism whereby you can set the minimum payment amount, for the purpose of lowering relative bank transaction fees. I had set mine to $500 and assumed the balance they owed me over the past several years would be insignificant. But I was pleasantly surprised that it was in fact $480 and all I had to do is lower the threshold limit to soon receive of a much needed cash injection.
But on this time zone, based on the location of my customers, I had to be awake and have the computer running at 1am in the morning. I was so worried about making enough earnings for the expensive flight for all of us to get back to the other side of the world that I slept very lightly while waiting for job offers, so that I could run quickly to the computer and grab them, doing the jobs during the day.
Trying to save money, I also switched to a cheaper beer. But I was starting to feel a bit weird, this feeling culminating one morning when I was trying to take a nap before starting work, sipping on beer in between attempted naps. When all of a sudden I had a seizure.
Mel freaked out, explaining later that I was convulsing in bed, with drool oozing out of my mouth. I came to about an hour later to find myself surrounded by a small group of people, including the landlord and a doctor. The doctor prescribed something for me and we left it at that. Time to cut back the beers and switch back to my previous one.
A little while later we had to go to the capital city for visa matters. My indigestion had been acting up and I had been going to the toilet so much that my hemroids were acting up again – first time in about ten years. It was getting so bad that I resorted to the ostrich position, naked butt sticking out into the air, face on my pillow, pulling my butt cheeks apart so Mel could occasionally spray some water on the bulging part while a fan was set to high and pointing at it to cool it down. Could barely get any sleep it was so painful and eventually Mel demanded that I go to the hospital.
Had to try to stand in the taxi, because sitting was excruciatingly painful, and in the emergency hospital they took me in immediately. They injected me with pain killers and antibiotics and said to just lie there and wait for an operation.
A week went by and I hardly ate, to try and help it to heal faster, and mentioned at some point about my recent seizure, explaining that I had epilepsy as a child.
They put through EEG, MRI and all sorts of expensive tests (free in this country, thank you), until I finally sat down with the doctor. Who said that, because of Covid, unfortunately, there is not enough capacity for a surgery on my ass. I said that is okay, it should be fine now, but enquired into the results of my seizure examination. I was then very surprised to learn that the epilepsy is entirely fine, without any traces, but that I was not getting enough sleep. The doctor explained that we should have seven hours of solid sleep every night, during when the brain gets into some deep healing cycle, adjusting and balancing the brain waves with the body’s electrical frequency. Something like that.
Well, I’ll just be flaberghastedly surprised!
Borrowed some money from friends and family, scraped together enough earnings and soon enough we were on our way back to the Philippines.
Because of Mel’s passport, once again it was tricky to find airports we can pass through and eventually decided on Turkish airlines with a local partner to pause overnight in Panama city and then another night in Istanbul. It was a long and painful transfer, but Kaja was surprisingly very cooperative. What did turn out to be a major pain in the butt was my new and practically unused windsurf equipment. Transferring all the baggage from one airline to another, almost couldn’t get my debit card to work, but we both decided that the nice lady at the airline counter must have sympathised with us because Kaja is so adorable that she spent her entire lunch hour phoning around to get the job done.
A swab shoved deep up our nasal cavity in Manila, four nights mandatory quarantine at a fancy and expensive hotel required by the authorities, and soon enough we were back in the safety of Mel’s parents’ home.
It’s been a choppy couple of years paying everyone back and to earn enough from translation to start saving up for our next dream, which is to buy property on a neighboring island and develop it. Perhaps into a little resort, who knows, but dreams keep us going. We’ve got the fridge, laundry machine, stove and oven, and a place lined up on the island to move into in about three weeks. Rental for now, but it will be a good base for the next eight months, to give us ample time to explore the island in search of our dream property.
The borders have finally opened up as well, so hopefully they will stay that way and we’ve started to get a trickle of customers, so I’m making the slow transition away from translations again and hopefully things will return back to the normal they promised us at the very beginning of all this nonsense.
I wrote the below when we first arrived to Canoa.
Previous invitation to Canoa, Ecuador
This is an invitation to all my friends who would like to escape the frigid winter of the north to come visit us here only a few kilometres south of the equator.
Unfortunately, we are renting only a single room:
But you can borrow my windsurf board (only stored inside when we go out somewhere) and cook with us in our kitchen. But if you are on a budget, we have some huts across the street for which we could ask for a deal (we can buy mattresses and sheets etc):
Or if you prefer something fancier, perhaps the hotel of our landlord just two blocks closer to the water:
Only a spit’s distance from the beach!
Where you can enjoy a $2 2/3rd litre beer at one of our favourite spots, Smiley’s:
because he always smiles and can make lots of fruit drinks, on this beach stretch of road where there are tons of other places:
such as the Beach Boyz, where I like to jam my viola on Friday and Saturday nights:
Lots of handmade crafts if you like shopping:
Or rent a surfboard and join the other beach bums for a pina colada on the beach:
Next to a volleyball net and highbar workout station in front of our favourite Sunday hangout…
In a lovely little village where the locals like to draw on the walls: